Gateway Gazette

Hear the Beep Where You Sleep: Every Bedroom Needs a Working Smoke Alarm

Fire Prevention Week 2015: October 4 – 10

Hear the Beep - every bedroomThe sound of a smoke alarm can mean the difference between life and death in a fire. Unfortunately, many Alberta homes are missing this lifesaving tool.

“We know from the research that working smoke alarms cut the chances of dying in a fire nearly in half,” says, Acting Fire Commissioner Spence Sample. “But they must be installed and working properly to do so.”

Data from the Office of the Fire Commissioner shows that many homes have smoke alarms that aren’t working or maintained properly, usually because of missing, disconnected or dead batteries.

“Our new building codes have taken into account the importance of where the smoke alarms are placed,” notes Sample. “Starting this year, all new homes built in Alberta require a smoke alarm inside each bedroom, along with one in the hallway or area between the room and the rest of that storey of the home.”

Many homes in Alberta may not have any smoke alarms, not enough smoke alarms, alarms that are too old, or alarms that are not working. “Working” means that the smoke alarm will beep when smoke is present or when the test button is pressed. It means that the smoke alarm has a power source (battery or household electric circuit), its openings to let smoke in are not plugged by dust, cob-webs or paint, and that the electronic components are able to sense smoke and sound the alarm. And, if a smoke alarm is 10 years old or older, it needs to be replaced.

While smoke alarms have been encouraged for decades, Fire Prevention Week provides an opportunity to re-educate people about their importance, new features and new options for installation and maintenance:

  • Test smoke alarms at least once a month using the test button, and make sure everyone in your home knows their sound.
  • If an alarm “chirps,” warning the battery is low, replace the battery right away.
  • Replace all smoke alarms, including alarms that use 10-year batteries and hard-wired alarms, when they’re 10 years old or sooner if they do not respond properly when tested.
  • Never remove or disable a smoke alarm.

For more information on fire safety in Alberta, contact your municipality’s fire or emergency service or the Office of the Fire Commissioner at 1-800-421-6929, email firecomm@gov.ab.ca or visit www.ofc.alberta.ca and select Public Education tab.

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